Sirene del deserto. Animali mitici al crocevia delle culture

Loredana Mancini


In Western thought, the Sirens are closely related to the sea and the dangers of sailing. Nevertheless, they occasionally are listed among the wild beasts that haunt deserts and ruined cities: in the Greek translation of the prophetical books of the Bible (Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah), for example, they are included in the mournful bestiary of the desert together with jackals, snakes, ostriches and owls. First of all, this paper will investigate the uses, meaning and transformation of the mythical Sirens and their theriomorphic iconography in Ptolemaic Egypt, where the translation of the Bible is thought to have been made. Then the analysis will focus on the meaning given to the word seiren both by the translator – an Alexandrian scholar with competence in Hebrew – and by its audience – fully Hellenized Jews of the Diaspora – and, consequently, on the semiotic shift that affected the post-classical reception of the myth of Sirens.

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